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Saturday, July 26, 2014

GB Sampedro’s ‘Separados’ to compete in Cinemalaya 2014

Separados, a story of six men struggling with the pain of separation, is director GB Sampedro’s entry to the New Breed category of the 2014 Cinemalaya Film Festival.

Starring Victor Neri, Ricky Davao, Anjo Yllana, Jason Abalos, Alfred Vargas and Erik Santos in his movie debut as a call center agent who ends up as a battered husband, Separados is inspired partly by GB’s own experiences and those of his friends who were either married or in relationships that, for one reason or another, ended. It is a concept that GB began forming in 2006, a year after his own relationship hit the rocks. Through the years, and subsequent relationships that also ended—including his relationship with beauty queen and actress Daiana Menezes—GB refined the concept, adding characters and scenes until the movie reached its present form.

GB Sampedro
Although the stories of the six characters in the movie are distinct and separate, they are woven together in a tightly-written story that discusses separation from a man’s point of view. GB and co-writer Eric Ramos spent weeks researching why couples separate because they wanted to come up with a realistic film that takes an honest look into an age-old problem. According to their research, the top reasons for separation include sexual incompatibility, religious differences, indulging in vices such as drinking and gambling and domestic violence. (Yes, sometimes men are the victims).“Ilang weeks of pagbabasa at pag-research ang inubos namin sa movie kasi gusto ko talaga na ma-reinforce siya ng tamang research para hindi ako masabihan ng ‘Hindi naman totoo ‘yan!” says GB.

Separados is GB’s follow-up to 2009’s Astig, another ensemble movie that won for him a Best Director award in that year’s Cinemalaya festival. Separados will be screened from August 1 to 10 at different venues of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and the Ayala Malls cinemas.

The movie shows that men can also be the victims in a separation. “Yon ang di naman masasabing selling point siguro, pero kumbaga ‘yon ang bago, may ibang perspective ka na makikita dito. ‘yung punto de bista ng kalalakihan. Usually kasi, hindi nila tinitingnan na capable pala ang lalaki na masaktan.”

Separados achieves this without making women look like they’re at fault. “Hindi naman bine-blame lahat sa babae,meron din dito likas na babaero na character, pero may dahilan din, may reason kung bakit siya naging babaero, yun nga lang, di mo masyadong ma-elaborate,” says GB.

The movie weaves together the six men’s stories in a unique way. GB explains: “The first character suffers from sexual incompatibility with his partner, at ‘yun ang nagiging ugat ng problema nila. Dahil doon, si lalake nagiging workaholic na lang which leads na nagkahiwalay sila, painful nu’ng una pero naging maganda sa dulo. Tapos he remarried, at nagkaroon siya ng second chance. ‘Yung mapapangasawa niya, anak ng second separado who is played by Ricky Davao, na ang istorya naman niya, closet queen siya. Alam niya na bading siya mula pagkabata niya, pero kinasal. Nagkaroon siya ng relationship sa babae, na sinubukan niya to convince himself na straight siya. Pero nagkaroon siya ng feelings for a man, na isa ding separado na car salesman naman, who is Jason Abalos, and so on and so forth. Tuhog-tuhog ang mga istorya nila.”

The cast turned in some very revealing performances. Acting in a story like Separados was a challenge for most of them, especially since the characters they play in the movie are very far from who they are in real life.

Alfred Vargas, who doesn’t just act in, but also co-produced the film, says the Separados journey was a unique experience for him.

“It involved me so much more in the whole filmmaking process,” says Alfred. “Filmmaking is one of the most enjoyable and fulfilling endeavors I’ve ever been into. I didn’t realize it until I became a producer myself. What’s also interesting is that I gained more understanding of what a professional actor should be when I started producing films. It opened my eyes and made me see the realities and the ups and downs of the industry.”

So far, he says, he is proud to say that he has produced quality films that may inspire Filipinos. He hopes those who come to see Separados will find pieces of themselves in the movie.

“People can expect to see themselves instantly in the shoes of one or more of the separados,” he says. “Separados is a narrative about love, life, relationships, failures and hope. It’s everybody’s story.”

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